Monday, September 7, 2015

Do you LOVE what You're Writing?

Years ago I got a great piece of advice from the blog of another writer, and I'll never forget it. If I could remember who it was, I would give them credit for it here. For all I know they got this advice from someone else themselves. Since then, I've heard other people say it, so it might be one of those things that's been repeated so often that no one can remember who actually came up with it. Anyway, the advice was this: Before you start writing a novel, ask yourself some questions.
  1. Do you love this idea? If you don't, think about something else. To make the reader love the story, you have to love it first. Plus, writing a book is hard work. You need to love it so that you can get through those dark times when you want to quit.
  2. Can you walk away from it? If you can push the idea down, not write the book, maybe it just isn't ready yet. Sometimes an idea needs to sit in the back of your brain a while before it becomes everything it can be. Let your creative minions work on it while you do something else.
  3. What do you love about it? Do you love the plot or just the main character? Maybe you should put the character in a new story, or maybe you need to find a better character for the amazing plot you already have. In other words, I think it's important to love more than one aspect of a book before you write it.
Let me add some advice of my own. I have a friend who desperately wants to be a writer. The problem is, she starts off in love with a story, but after a while that love fades away. She eventually stops writing. I've given her the following advice; although, it hasn't helped her. But maybe it will help you. First, understand this: You will not be in love with your book through the whole process. I like to compare writing a book to getting married. You fall in love, go through all the giddy preparations, and you vow to love each other forever. Then, reality strikes. Marriage (writing) is hard. The honeymoon ends, and you start wondering what you got yourself into. Well, most people don't run out and get a divorce. They realize that their significant other has flaws, and sometimes those flaws are going to make them crazy. Marriage takes hard work. If you want to stay married, you put time into building a stronger relationship. Same with writing a book. You will not ALWAYS love your story. I go through a love/hate thing with my books. After the strong emotions I have for a new story start to wane, I remind myself that I will fall in love with it again. I just need to keep going. This is where the work comes in. Keep your head down and keep working. How do you fall in love with your book again? It is possible to rekindle that old flame. Here are a few things to try during those dark moments when you want to throw the whole thing in the trash and move on.
  1. Re-read what you've already written. This will often remind me of why I fell in love with it in the first place, and I'll be able to continue on from where I left off.
  2. Tell someone about it. If re-reading what you've written doesn't help, talk to someone about it. Be careful not to tell someone your plot if it's fascinating, and you're afraid they're going to use it themselves. I never talk to other writers about what I'm working on. Instead, I will talk to my non-writer friends of family members. Sometimes this works, and I will feel the butterflies in my stomach again. Time to run back to the computer.
  3. Put it aside. Sometimes you just need a break. If the above things don't help, put the story aside and do something fun. Take a hike, or go see a movie, or read a great book. You might just need some time to get your creative juices flowing again. You could even do a little work on a future book (do an outline or write some scene that might go into your next book).
In the end, you need to remember that the feeling will return. If you loved your characters and your plot, you will love them again. Just keep writing.

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